“I personally think that data available in my country is to a very large extent not safe. The course material presented by UNPAN defines data as simple observations of state of the world. It has been a norm in our country to regard data, information and knowledge as one and the same concepts. Most academics, professionals including myself, as well as politicians in my country treat these three concepts as one. Having gone through this course I have been able to draw a distinction between these concepts. I have discovered that data becomes information only when it has relevance and purpose, whereas knowledge is information which is valuable and it is from the human mind. Having made this observation I maintain that data is of fundamental significance to the development information and knowledge and ultimately the development of the country.
As already mentioned from the beginning I am of the view that data in my country is not satisfactorily safe. Some of the reasons that I can put forward for saying that data in Botswana is not safe include interalia; types of databases used, corruption and dishonesty by government officials, an endeavor by the government to promote transparency, freedom of information act, the use of security intelligence agency, abuse of privileges by the ruling party.
Types of databases used
In Botswana, the data technologies used are susceptible to abuse and can easily be penetrated by intruders and unauthorized people. Personal Identification Numbers used by individuals in the workplace can easily be over passed. Anyone in the department that I work in can easily have access to my data. I can also have access to their data.
Corruption and dishonesty by government officials
Government officials in my country can disclose information to unauthorized people for a fee. Data about individuals is therefore exposed to unscrupulous people who can then use it to blackmail the victims.
An endeavor by the government to promote transparency
In its quest to make sure that people have access to information and are aware of what is going on is compelled to divulge even confidential information to the public.
Enactment of freedom of freedom of information act
The coming into being of this law forces the government to disclose information to the public.
The use of security intelligence
The security intelligence agency is used to spy on opponents by the ruling government and leaders. The security intelligence agency can force any individual to provide it with any information. People’s phones can be tapped any how any way.
Abuse of privileges by the ruling party
Politicians belonging to the ruling party can access data about members of the opposition parties whereas opposition parties are denied access to information. They use their positions to force their subordinates in government bureaucracy to divulge information.
In my country there is no comprehensive data protection law. In Botswana we only have policies adopted by various corporate bodies which try to protect their customers.
Ordinary citizens may be denied access to information in custody of government, but powerful individuals in government may have ready access to such information and use it to their advantage;
Third party service providers in insurance and the hospitality industries often gain access to personal data without their consent;
E-government implementation will enable data relating to people to be integrated into central databases without their consent;
Cyber security poses the greatest challenge.” – Mpho Kasoka – Ghanzi, Botswana